philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Ring security camera installed in a children’s room for ‘peace of mind’ is hacked, 8-year-old daughter harassed

In a chilling exchange caught on video last week, the LeMays say the man was able to interact with their daughter after hacking into a Ring security camera that had recently been installed in the bedroom shared by Alyssa and her two younger sisters. Over the course of several minutes, the man repeatedly directed a racial slur at Alyssa and tried to persuade her to misbehave, according to a copy of the video obtained by The Washington Post.

“I can’t even put into words how badly I feel and how badly my children feel,” Alyssa’s mother, Ashley LeMay, told The Washington Post on Thursday. “I did the exact opposite of adding another security measure. I put them at risk and there’s nothing I can do to really ease their mind. I can’t tell them I know who it is. I can’t tell them that they’re not going to show up at our house in the middle of the night.”

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A new algorithm reveals a web of artistic connections by looking for humans posed similarly in different paintings.

pose-matchingarxivThe method is relatively straightforward and based on the vast databases that art historians have created in recent years. These have digitized the collections from many of the world’s top museums and galleries, and many of them are openly available online. These databases are suddenly amenable to analysis by machine intelligence.

At the same time, other researchers have been developing machine vision algorithms that can determine a human pose from a 2D image. Probably the most advanced is an algorithm called OpenPose, an open-source program for real-time pose detection in 2D images, developed at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

They say the automated process easily outperforms other ways of finding similar images.

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TikTok CEO Cancels Capitol Hill Meetings Amid Investigation Into Chinese Surveillance, Censorship

alex-zhuTikTok CEO Alex Zhu has recently said that he’s “quite optimistic” about an ongoing U.S. national security probe into the Bytedance-owned micro-video platform, amid concerns that the app is censoring content in accordance with the aims of the Chinese government, and collecting personal information on underage users.

But actions speak louder than words. Apparently, Zhu — as well as TikTok U.S.’s general manager, Vanessa Pappas — cancelled meetings at the last minute with Republican Senators on Monday, The Hill reports, inciting outrage from both Sen. Marsha Blackburn(R-Tenn.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).

“What is the real reason TikTok has cancelled my meeting with CEO Alex Zhu?” Blackburn tweeted. “What are they really doing with your data and what type surveillance are they conducting on your precious children? TikTok — you owe us answers.” Added Hawley: “Not willing to answer questions. Get a call from Beijing?”

TikTok did not provide a reason for the cancellations, but stated that the meetings would take place after the holidays. A source told The Hill that planning for the meetings had been rushed, and that rescheduling allows TikTok to organize additional sitdowns.

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The next generation of the internet is almost here—and it could even transform our farms


5x: How much faster 5G’s initial peak speeds will be, compared to 4G (aka LTE)

2035: The year 5G’s “full economic effect” will be realized globally, according to Qualcomm

33: The number of U.S. cities that currently have 5G connectivity*

Sources: “What You Need to Know About 5G,” Consumer Reports (5G speed); Qualcomm 5G Economy Study (2035); “Here Are the Cities Where You Can Access 5G From Major U.S. Carriers Right Now,” Digital Trends, *as of 10/18/2019 (5G cities)

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Sony Pictures Digital Marketing Raises The Stakes On Augmented Reality With “Jumanji: The Next Level” Campaign

Teaming up with some of the top companies and brands – including Amazon, Candy Crush Saga, Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube – the studio has created a wide range of experiences to whet the appetite for the movie.

"In Jumanji, players get pulled into the game and have to play it to survive.  We wanted to bring that experience to our campaign whenever we could," said Elias Plishner, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Digital Marketing & Data Analytics for Sony Pictures.  "Our partners, who know their platforms better than anyone, rose to the challenge by designing programs that push the boundaries of the technology.

In a collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), the studio encourages fans to visit, one of the first voice-activated AR experiences on the web, where they can go deeper into the world of Jumanji than ever before.

On Snapchat, the line between the real and Jumanji worlds also becomes blurred with a total of seven reality-bending AR experiences.

On YouTube, a Jumanji augmented reality experience invites viewers to do more than just watch the trailer. It invites them to see themselves in the desert, cloud forest, and arctic worlds of the film.

Candy Crush Saga is also getting in on the action. Now, players in 23 major markets can make their matches with an exclusive Jumanji-themed in-game integration - the first-ever full-sponsored brand takeover of Candy Crush Saga.

On the social media platform TikTok, the studio is running a Hashtag Challenge campaign with a custom branded effect ... A custom branded effect enticed users to put their hands up to the screen - motion activated technology then sucked users into the video game to the beat of a Jumanji soundtrack,...

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What North’s Focals AR Glasses Taught Me About Augmented Reality

960x0-4First, I stopped by the Focals by North trailer at the event to order a pair and have my face scanned for fitting. After about 8 weeks they were ready...

This personalized experience made the Focals feel like a premium device, which honestly it is—it goes for $799 with prescription and $600 without.

The display brightness is plenty good even in broad daylight, but I prefer to wear sunglasses when I’m in the sun.


Because the Focals look so much like regular glasses, they are much more socially acceptable than, say, my Snap Spectacles 3 glasses which I’ve had for a few weeks now.

The Focals use a single laser projector to fire what looks to be three different colors (RGB) onto a reflective piece of the lens. This creates a very small 1mm eye-box that enters your retina. It’s because of this incredibly small eye-box that North must get your measurements and calibration just right. From what North says, the next generation will have a  20x bigger eye-box and will be a lot better in this regard.

The glasses are controlled by a wearable ring. I like that North opted for this method, rather than touching the glasses on the side.


While I’ve been using the Focals on and off for the last few months, I have not worn them daily.

Though the amount of applications currently supported by the Focals is limited, one great thing is that they continue to support new apps every week based on what users are requesting. You can currently track your Uber with the Focals, read your OneNote notes for a presentation, check your to-do list with Todoist, check your Twitter, control your music with Spotify and more.

Coming soon: Focals 2.0

The next generation of Focals, coming in 2020, will sport a 7.5x increase in resolution to the display and have the 20x larger eye box mentioned earlier. The Focals 2.0 will also be dramatically sharper, with new focal depth and more dynamic range.

The future of AR

My experience with Focals by North taught me a lot about the future of AR and what does and doesn’t work. I think the team at North got a lot of things right for a first-generation product, but there are still a lot of things that need improving.

Tethering nReal’s Light glasses to a smartphone will likely be the best way to experience mobile AR for the near future—devices like Microsoft’s Hololens and Magic Leap’s ML1 are simply too big for consumers and lack cellular connectivity.

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CTO Predictions: 2020 Technology Trends

[PhilNote: this is a good list!]

  1. Entertainment will be reinvented through enhanced experience-specific service architectures that support better multi-modal experience design.  ...
  2. The commoditisation of AI based recommendation engines, such as Netflix’s recommendation engine as a service. ...
  3. DNA computers, or at least quantum computers, will threaten everything we have (only recently) learnt to trust in cybersecurity. ...
  4. More human-aware environments. Highlighted by Japan’s famous robot hotel, Henn-na, who this year laid off half of its robot staff as they created too much work for humans; providing some confidence and consolation to those who are worried about becoming redundant to technology. ...
  5. Better application of IoT to enhance environments and drive both utility and entertainment experiences will become mainstream. ...
  6. And as sub-part of (5), there will be wider adoption of multi-sensory interfaces which will see the return of mixed reality (MR) glasses with integrated voice interfaces as many brands are exploring how voice can work for them; not just through Alexa….
  7. With 2020 being the year of 5G, it will also be the year rich mobile vision and voice interfaces become the norm. ...
  8. Bonus…2021 predictions will be written by AI. OpenAI, …

Sundance: 2020 New Frontier Program Features Underwater VR, Chomsky A.I.

The Sundance Institute revealed the last batch of programming for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival — minus a few last-minute additions to its feature lineup, still to come —  by announcing its New Frontier section, which this time around include not only augmented and virtual reality, but also SMS-based text messaging, biotech and artificial intelligence.

Some of the more unconventional pieces include “Anti-Gone” (pictured above), an installation that imagines the world post-climate change; “Spaced Out” from French artist Pierre Friquet a.k.a. Pyaré, an underwater VR experience that invites viewers to put on their swimsuits and literally dive in; “Chomsky vs. Chomsky: First Encounter” from Montreal-based researcher and artist Sandra Rodriguez, an A.I. version of Noam Chomsky; and “Dance Trail” from Swiss artists Gilles Jobin, Camilo De Martino, Tristan Siodlak and Susana Panades Diaz, an augmented reality location-based dance piece that can be experienced at multiple locations during the festival.

The full lineup:

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Infinitely Yours (Director: Miwa Matreyek) ― A live performance at the intersection of cinema and theater exploring what it means to be living in the Anthropocene and the time of climate crisis. A kaleidoscopic meditation that is an emotionally impactful and embodied illustration of news headlines we see everyday.


Anti-Gone (Lead Artist: Theo Triantafyllidis, Key Collaborators: Connor Willumsen, Matthew Doyle) ― In a post-climate change world, environmental catastrophe has become normalized. Cities are sunken, yet the vestiges of late-capitalist culture live on, clinging like barnacles to the ruins of civilization. Spyda and Lynxa are a couple navigating this world, gliding frictionlessly from shopping to movies to psychedelic drugs. Cast: Lindsey Normington, Zana Gankhuyag, Matthew Doyl.

BLKNWS (Director: Kahlil Joseph, Screenwriters: Sheba Anyanwu, Lee Harrison, Darol Kae, Producers: Onye Anyanwu, Kahlil Joseph) — An ongoing art project that blurs the lines between art, journalism, entrepreneurship, and cultural critique, appropriating the newsreel format as an opportunity to reimagine the contemporary cinematic experience, mixing an element of seriousness with a lighthearted twist on what news can be. Cast: Helen Molesworth, Alzo Slade, Amandla Stenberg, Trifari Williams.

Chomsky vs. Chomsky: First Encounter (Canada-Germany – Lead Artist: Sandra Rodriguez, Key Collaborators: Michael Burk, Cindy Bisho, Johannes Helberger) ― A prologue to a timely conversation on AI’s biggest promises and pitfalls. Lured by the possibility of emulating one of today’s most famous minds, we meet and engage with CHOMSKY_AI, an entity under construction, evolving from the arsenal of digital traces professor Noam Chomsky has left behind. Cast: Sandra Rodriguez, Michael Burk, Cindy Bishop, Johannes Helberger, Moov.AI.

Hominidae (Lead Artist: Brian Andrews, Key Collaborators: Brian Ferguson, Robert Steel, Kahra Scott-James) ― Against a landscape of X-ray imagery and wild anatomical reimagination, a mother and her children struggle for survival. This experience follows an Arachnid Hominid, an intelligent creature with human and spider physiology, from the birth of her children to her premature death in the teeth of her prey. Cast: Phyllis Griffin, Luis Mora, Emily Weems, Kidjie Boyer, Austin Daly, Oliver Angus.


Sandlines, the Story of History (Iraq – Director, screenwriter and producer: Francis Alÿs) — The children of a mountain village near Mosul re-enact a century of Iraqi history, from the secret Sykes-Picot agreement in 1916 to the realm of terror imposed by the Islamic State in 2016. The children revisit their past to understand their present.


How Did We Get Here? (Director and screenwriter: Michelle Miles) — A visual exploration of progressive atrophy. A study in how microscopic changes can go unnoticed, but amass over time. Even as these changes become drastic, we sometimes fail to realize anything has happened at all.

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Making deepfake tools doesn’t have to be irresponsible. Here’s how.

deepfakecoffee2It’s possible to limit the harm synthetic media tools might cause—but it won’t happen without effort.


Virtual reality experiences bring aquarium audiences closer to nature, without captivity

Using the latest technology, Immotion and the Bimini Shark Lab were able to tag different types of sharks with a small, virtual-reality camera. This first-of-its-kind video footage provides a unique perspective on how sharks move through the water.

After capturing the footage, Immotion was able to program the motion pods in which viewers sit to accurately represent the motion experienced in the field. The pod movements help viewers understand how a shark moves, including how hammerheads are required to continually move their head from side to side to eliminate a large blind spot in front of them.

Speaking about the new experience, Immotion Group's commercial director, Rod Findley, explained, “using VR technology to study the movement and behavior of these sharks can play a crucial part in educating people to gain a better understanding of the species, and the vital role they play in preserving the marine ecosystem.”

One of the first aquariums to bring in the new experiences is Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, where eight of Immotion’s experiences are offered. The Gulf Coast aquarium is in the midst of a multi-year plan to build one of Florida’s largest aquariums, and is committed to using "interactive, advanced, digital, and augmented reality technology" throughout the $130 million new Mote Science Education Aquarium.

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